Sherilyn Frazier grew up in West LA, California, where she resided most of her life. She grew up in a two parent home with an older brother and an older sister. Her family is very close. She is single, lives with her sister, and her brother lives up the street from them. Sherilyn is also a Christian who loves helping others.
Sherilyn Frazier got her undergrad degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she also was a division one athlete playing basketball for the Mustangs. During her time at Cal Poly she decided she wanted to work as an athletic academic advisor, so she set out to get her master’s after graduating. Sherilyn found herself at Slippery Rock in Pennsylvania for a two-year master’s program, however she took a year off and found herself completing her master’s in three years. She then came back to California and worked at UCLA part time before she found herself at LMU full time. She has only had one full time job which is her current job at LMU, but hopes one day God will guide her in a different direction such as entering the business world and potentially flipping properties. Sherilyn Frazier really just wants to follow God’s path that he has set for her by helping her help others.
Living in a large area today microaggressions are still present, and Sherilyn Fraizer has overcome her fair share through her career and daily life. Microaggressions can silence an individual’s confidence in their own voice. Ms. Sherilyn Frazier stated, “Yes umm….it’s crazy I’ve just recently come into my voice umm but when I didn’t feel as though I had one”. A voice is how an individual expresses their opinion, emotion, and represents themselves as an individual. During the course of the semester I read an article called “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan. This was a story of how a daughter had to consistently speak on behalf of her mother. It isn’t easy to speak for someone else and it’s even harder watching someone speak for you, having their voice heard but not your own voice. Even without the race barrier, women also have trouble finding their voice in the workplace. Another article I read was called, “A Story of a Fuck-Off Fund” by Paulette Perhach. This article encourages having a backup fund so you can speak up for yourself in the workplace and still be okay. Everybody’s voice matters but often times voices are not heard. Between the two readings and my interview, I’ve realized how important my voice is and how powerful it can be. Sherilyn had her own experience that led her to grow into her voice which she explained,
” somebody told me this story maybe umm some years ago that one of the men’s basketball coaches was actually fighting- not physically, but verbally fighting for me- umm to go on a simple trip to Vegas to the tournament. Umm because somebody said I didn’t need to go, I didn’t wanna, I shouldn’t have the opportunity to go, but they were like no she does so much for our team and she gives constantly and this is our way of saying thank you to her for all of her effort and what she does. Umm so that was an instance where somebody fought when I couldn’t or didn’t use my voice”.
When I heard Sherilyn tell her story I thought about how important it is to surround yourself with people who take action. It was heartbreaking to hear that only the coaches see her value in her work and the way she carries LMU athletics. It also emphasizes how important your voice is and how big of a difference it can make not just in your, but also somebody else’s, life.
Sherilyn Frazier has two people she really looks up to. The first person is her mom, Sherry. She says her mom is, was, and will always be a role model of hers because of her hard work. She always wanted to see others happy and successful, and she would always help people so that would happen. The next person Sherilyn admires is her pastor. She admires her pastor for being selfless, caring, driven, focused, and loving God. Sherilyn describes her as a woman who is, “constantly pouring herself out to the congregation and to people who do not belong to the church.” Her role models really shine through Sherilyn: everything she sees in these two women you also see in her. It is a true representation of who we aspire to be, and Sherilyn takes action in doing just so. It is so powerful and warming to hear and see her aspire to be so loving, helpful, and vulnerable in the hands of God.
As a former athlete, Sherilyn Frazier celebrates body positivity. When you look at social media as a consumer you’ll always see a specific body type, which is almost never an athletic woman. As an athlete watching an athletic commercial it is degrading and creates this false image of what an athlete should look like, due to the models being used for athletic products. Sherilyn counters this idea,
“If you look at if one person in particular I think about is Venus Williams she’s not your typical umm smaller woman, but she’s built. She’s thick, she’s muscular, but people like it. I mean to each zone if you don’t like it like you don’t have to hop down or be mean cause what you think is ideal or beautiful but umm muscles are pretty. I mean you don’t have to have like an eight pack and everything is cut and chiseled but I don’t know I guess for me it’s like if that’s how they choose to look that’s that’s their choice but I mean I’m okay with it. I would just say celebrate people-celebrate women- who are built athletically”.
This is very important because women built athletically are built that way for a reason. These women may not be represented as much, however that doesn’t downgrade their beauty. Through my coursework we watched a documentary called The Illusionists by director Elena Rossini. This documentary talks about the business side of marketing and consumers. It shows how they get individuals (especially women) to invest thousands of dollars in procedures and products that will essentially make them “beautiful”. It shows the strategies behind everything they produce. However Sherilyn counters this and says it doesn’t matter what you look like: you are beautiful, and we should celebrate all body types. She then ties this back into athletic bodies and continues to explain why it’s imperative we celebrate athletic women:
“…that’s what- that’s their livelihood if you’re speaking specially about someone whose playing a sport. Like that’s how they make their money, that’s how they feed themselves, this how they take care of their responsibility so why would you umm demean them or downgrade them or try and shame them for taking care of their temple, because that’s how they make their living”.
This is imperative because we often don’t think about why people look or act or speak they way they do. The last thing we think about is a person’s occupation. We also don’t think about how the intersections of our identities impact the way that we walk through this world and also how we are perceived by this world. Another video that broadened my knowledge over the semester was a Ted Talk I watched called “Call Me By My Name, Not My Stereotype” by Jolie Brownell. This video was really informative and perspective changing. Within the video Jolie talks about one of her poems called Beauty and the Best. This poem emphasized beauty standards and being a black woman. This is super important to me because in the mainstream media it is very unlikely you will see someone that looks like you. This was clear to me when I talked to Sherilyn. I asked her if she sees media representations that validate women who look similar to her. She responded “No, because I’m short! (laughs) I’m short and thick. (Laughs)…and I mean there is a lot of a lot of buff people in the media but short and thick you don’t necessarily see. You see tall and slender”. This is often the case, and it is heartbreaking to see and hear this for so many individuals. Brownell and Sherilyn stress how body positivity is imperative to our society.
My interview with Sherilyn Frazier and the coursework I completed this last semester was very eye opening. It has opened my eyes to notice how people carry themselves and how important it is to speak up, aspire to be more, and feel comfortable in your own skin. Sherilyn represents all of these. She is a strong courageous women who holds her head up high. She follows God, and has grown into her voice. She celebrates people and helps those in need. She is driven and focused in her career and has aspirations in life. She is happy and strong, but she can also be vulnerable. She is what I aspire to be, and I truly enjoyed my conversation with her.
If you would like to listen to Sherilyn Frazier speak and share her story, I highly recommend you listen to our interview below.
Mother Tongue by Amy Tan.
A Story of a Fuck-Off Fund by Paulette Perhach.
The Illusionist by Dir. Elena Rossini.
Brownell, J. (n.d.). Call Me By My Name, Not My Stereotype. Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://www.ted.com/talks/jolie_brownell_call_me_by_my_name_not_my_stereotype